I grew up in a city of 100,000, large enough for crime, abductions, various such things, even in the 70s.
But most of us walked or biked to school. Only the kids with disabilities, and the very few who got driven by their parents, got to school via vehicle, in my first elementary school.
My second was a special school for the gifted, so many of us had to be bussed. In middle and high school, bussing was more common, but either you were bussed or you walked.
In fact, my parents tell me I started walking to school by myself at a mere five years old, having insisted on it just a few days after starting Kindergarten.
(I also got lost. But I soon learned the way: turn right at the big decorative rock. I was helped by a kindly old man, who nowadays supposedly I should have rejected as a dangerous stranger.)
Instead of helicoptering, I’ve been trying to carry on my mother’s more hands-off approach, the kind my generation grew up with.
However, it’s hard to do at times, because 30 years is a long stretch of time to remember everything your parents did, other parents act like you’re neglectful if your second-grader walks to school by himself, and there’s so much contradicting advice these days.
For example, Supernanny is great for learning how to discipline children without abuse (including screaming) or even light spanking, but even she seems to encourage a certain amount of hovering (why should I be responsible for keeping my kids entertained and “stimulated”?).